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'World Sailing' goes after IOC Vice President over email comments

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz 7 Oct 2020 18:01 PDT 8 October 2020
World Sailing Annual Meeting 2020 © World Sailing

"World Sailing" has issued a statement on the story run earlier in the week, by authoritative InSideTheGames website and newsletter.

The story by InsideTheGames' Liam Morgan referred to an email the publication had sighted which "refers directly to three World Sailing Ethics Commission cases involving Andersen and the fact Perry is banned from entering the United States."

Kim Andersen is the current President of World Sailing, and one of four candidates in a Presidential Election this month. The three Ethics Commission complaints are over voting procedure irregularities, the first of which relates to the 2019 Annual Conference, which was dismissed based on a report and recommendation of an Ethics Commission appointed investigating officer. The second concerns the unauthorised placement of signatures of two World Sailing Vice Presidents on a letter of rebuke sent to a member of the sailing media, Sailing Illustrated over comments made by the host, Tom Ehman, on his chat show. The complaint was found to be proven, and Andersen received a severe warning.

One of those signatures was that of Scott Perry (URU) currently a Vice President and Board member of World Sailing, who is one of four candidates in the upcoming World Sailing election for President.

Andersen's response to his reprimand from the Ethics Commission was to claim that the Ethics Commission was not properly constituted. It is the Board of World Sailing's responsibility, of which Andersen is Chair, to ensure that the Ethics Commission is properly constituted.

The third complaint, is yet to be heard because the Ethics Commission is not yet properly constituted, following the recent resignation of three members. However it is potentially the most serious of the three and concerns a PR services contract said to involve a six figure payment.

"World Sailing" issued the statement claiming

It has come to the attention of World Sailing that Mr. Ser Miang Ng, IOC Member from Singapore and member of World Sailing Ethics Commission, has been interfering in the internal elections and politics of World Sailing. These actions are deemed unacceptable and condemned by World Sailing. For an individual to misuse their position in order to intervene in the election and politics of an autonomous International Federation goes against all good governance practices.

Given its track record, it is not known who generated the unsigned statement from "World Sailing" - whether it was Andersen himself, the CEO, or the Board, and indeed under what authority the statement was made.

It is also questionable as to whether it is in the best interests of Sailing for the world body to be publicly making these claims against someone who is not just a mere "IOC member from Singapore" but is one of four Vice Presidents of the International Olympic Committee (in his second term as a VP). Ng Ser Miang, a very successful Singaporean businessman is also Chairman of the IOC's Finance Committee.

A former Vice-President of World Sailing, Ng Ser Miang was also very critical of the decision of World Sailing in October 2018 on their decision which effectively changed 50% of the events for the 2024 Olympic Regatta.

Currently, financially embattled World Sailing is a recipient of a loan from the IOC against a share of the TV Rights receipts that would have been distributed by IOC following the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

As well as the statement made on its website, InsideTheGames reports: Andersen, through the British law firm Mills & Reeve, has also submitted a formal complaint to the World Sailing Ethics Commission against the group's acting chairman Dieter Neupert.

In the complaint, sighted by InsideTheGames, Andersen has alleged Ser Miang – a former sailor who also sits on the World Sailing Ethics Commission – and Neupert have committed "gross violations" of the ethics code.

It marks the latest development in an increasingly bitter Presidential election, where Andersen is being challenged by [Gerardo] Seeliger and World Sailing vice-presidents Scott Perry and Quanhai Li, prior to voting starting on Friday (October 9).

One of the allegations in the complaint concerns an informal meeting in the autumn of 2020, between Seeliger, Josep Pla (President of the powerful European Sailing Federation, EuroSAF), sailing official Gerard Esteva, who were later joined by Ng Ser Miang. Pla was the investigating officer for the Ethics Commission investigation on the unauthorised signatures and was claimed by Andersen to be not impartial. Ng Ser Miang - as well as his roles with the IOC, is also a member of the World Sailing Ethics Commission - the body which has/will hear the three complaints against World Sailing's President. The third of these is unlikely to be held before the Presidential election for which voting starts this Friday, and the outcome will be announced on November 1.

IOC Athletes' Commission liaison Patrick Singleton issued a statement supporting Andersen's claims about the meeting between Seeliger, Pla, Esteva and NG Ser Miang, even though Singleton stated he could not hear what was being said in the conversation.

Singleton represented the well known ski-resort of Bermuda, at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, where he finished 19th in the Men's Skeleton event.

As well as the complaint against Ng Ser Miang, Andersen, according to InsideTheGames, also claims the Ethics Committee Chairman Dieter Neupert (SUI) , has committed four breaches of the ethics code – "a clear conflict of interest", and "continuing to act as chairperson of an improperly constituted Ethics Commission".

It also cites "failure to respect the principle of confidentiality" and "perpetuating a falsehood that our client was trying to 'get rid' of the Ethics Commission".

World Sailing's Ethics Commission was chaired by John Faire (NZL) a former High Court judge, champion skiff sailor, and with a long involvement with sailing administration by the world body, including the introduction of rules permitting previously banned advertising by sponsors on racing yachts. Faire resigned in October 2019 for health reasons, prior to the current eruption of complaints to the Ethics Committee involving the President of World Sailing.

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